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Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin

(14 July 1743 – 20 July 1816 / Kazan)

God


O Thou, who's infinite in space,
Alive in ever-moving matter,
Eternal in the flow of time,
God faceless, with a trinity of faces!
Soul unified and omnipresent,
Who needs no place or reason,
Whom none can ever comprehend,
Whose being permeates all things,
Encompassing, creating, guarding,
Thou, called by us God.

Although a great mind might contrive
To fix the ocean's depths,
To count the sands, the rays of stars,
Thou can't be summed or fixed!
Enlightened souls who have emerged
From your creative light
Cannot begin to grasp your ways:
Our thought alone aspires to thee,
But in your magnitude is lost,
A moment in eternity.

From depths eternal thou invoked
Primordial substances of chaos
Within thine very self thou birthed
Eternity before all time.
And before time from thine self alone
Thou shinest forth within thyself.
All light originates in thee.
Creating all with but a single word
And reaching forth in new creation,
Thou wast, thou art, and thou will ever be!

Thou incarnate the chain of life,
Thou nourish and sustain it.
Thou joinest starts with ends.
Thou bringest life to all through death.
New suns are born from thee
In flowing streams of sparks.
As on a clear and freezing day,
A hoarfrost dusting shines,
And floats, and churns and sparkles,
As do the stars beneath thy vault.

A multitude of shining spheres
Floats off into infinity.
They all fulfill thy laws,
And cast their vivifying rays.
But all these brilliant lanterns-
This mass of glowing crystal-
This roiling crowd of golden waves-
These burning elements-
Or all these gleaming worlds as one-
Compare to thee like night to day.

Compared to thee the earthly realm
Is like a droplet in the sea.
What is this universe I see?
And what am I, compared to thee?
If, in this airy sea, I wish
To multiply a million worlds
By other worlds a hundred times-
Then venture to compare the sum to thee,
All this would be a tiny speck;
So I, compared to thee, am naught.

I'm Naught! But thou shinest through me
With all the splendor of your virtue;
Thou showest yourself through me
Like sun inside a tiny water drop.
I'm Naught! But still I can feel life,
Like something hungering I fly,
I'm always soaring high above.
To be with you is my soul's wish,
It contemplates, reflects and thinks:
If I exist-thou art as well.

Thou art! As nature's order shows,
My heart affirms the same to me,
My reason's sure of it:
Tho art-And I'm no longer naught!
A fraction of the universe's whole,
It seems that I repose in nature's
Critical center where you started
With the creation of corporeal beasts,
And ended with the heav'nly spirits:
Through me, you fused the chain of life.

I am the link of all existing worlds,
I am the outer brink of matter,
I am the focal point of living things,
I am the starting place of the divine;
Although my flesh rots into ash,
My mind commands the thunderbolts,
I'm king-I'm slave - I'm worm-I'm God!
But though I am miraculous,
Whence did I come?-that no one knows.
I could not by myself have risen.

Creator, I am your invention!
I am a creature of your wisdom.
O, source of life, bestower of blessings,
My soul and king!
According to your iron laws
My self eternal must needs pass
Across the borne of death;
My spirit's clothed in mortal garb
And I return through death alone,-
To your eternity - O, father!-

Thou art inscrutable, transcendent!
I understand that all my soul's
Imaginings are powerless
Your shadow to describe;
But when thou must be glorified
To pay such tribute we frail men
One course alone can follow.
We venture upwards to thy realm,
To lose ourselves in thy vast otherness
And shed our tears of gratitude.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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